Native vegetation clearing quick guide

When it comes to native vegetation (NV) clearing, there are a lot of guidelines and regulations in place. We understand it can often be confusing and complicated when trying to interpret how the regulations pertain to your specific circumstance.

Below are a list of some FAQs we get in relation to native vegetation clearing. Take a look through to see if your question is answered. And if not, please get in touch!

We are here to help, contact us

Can I clear native vegetation?

A planning permit is usually needed to remove, destroy or lop native vegetation (remove native vegetation) under Clause 52.17 of all Victorian planning schemes. However, there are some exemptions from this requirement.  To understand the exceptions, visit

Frequently asked questions

Does my property have an environmental overlay?

Go to Planning Maps Online and search for your property by entering your address.

It’s free and it shows if you have an overlay.  

I want to clear some native vegetation but my property has an environmental overlay?

Check the exemptions listed below but do contact Council for advice.

I want to clear on my neighbour’s side of the fence line.

Stop! You must have consent, including Council’s consent (if it’s Public Land). 

I want to remove Native vegetation on the property I lease?

Contact the owner for consent, then check if you need a permit or are exempt.

I want to clear my land for an internal fence?

Stop! You’ll need a permit to clear NV for internal fencing.

I want to clear for a boundary fence?

No worries, you don’t need a permit IF you have the neighbour’s consent and you’re clearing the minimum amount to construct your fence (must be less than 4 metres wide).  

I want to cut the branches off road trees that hang over my farm boundary fence?

Go for it, Council don’t want branches falling on fences either, that’s how stock get on the roads. To cut the branches along the boundary line you don’t need a permit.  Always cut the minimum.

There’s overgrown native vegetation on my boundary line that stops me from erecting a fence, what’s the maximum vegetation I can take out on a boundary line?

Legally, you can only clear ‘the minimum’ to build your fence.  4 metres is the maximum total width you can clear to achieve this.  So, if your neighbour allows you to clear 1 metre on their side, you have a maximum of 3 metres on your side.   

I want to cut down more than 4 metres of vegetation along the boundary fence line.

Stop!  You need a permit. Don’t risk a fine.

One side of the boundary fence line is an open paddock; can I remove native vegetation on the other side as well?

No. If you already have access to a boundary fence, you can’t clear anything else but you can trim off obstructions up to a metre over the fence line though.


There’s nowhere to build a house on my land so I want to clear native vegetation for a house?

You’ll definitely need a permit and you might have to buy off-set vegetation as well. Call Council. 

I have other options but I want to remove native vegetation so I can build a house with an ocean view, is that okay?

If there are any other alternatives to locate your activities or development to avoid areas of native vegetation on your property then it is unlikely you’ll get a permit, but you can try. Consider changing the design of your activity or development to reduce the amount of native vegetation you’ll need to remove. NV should only be removed after all suitable alternatives to avoid removal have been considered and are not possible. 

What if I remove native vegetation illegally?

Fines over $100,000 are not unusual. You can be ordered to re-vegetate the illegally cleared land which makes the whole exercise pointless and expensive. These are State Government laws.

How can investigators prove offences anyway?

Proving these offences has become much easier; witnesses, anonymous tip-offs, civilian camera footage, high quality internet mapping data and satellite images are just some of the tools available. Authorised officers can also enter private property without a warrant.

What if my neighbour won't do anything?

If your neighbour does not wish to undertake clearing on their side of an existing boundary fence you can undertake four metres of clearing on your side of the fence.

Are Aboriginal scarred trees able to be trimmed or cleared under the new rules?

Aboriginal scarred trees are protected by the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2009 and a cultural heritage permit from the Department of Planning and Community Development is required prior to undertaking any action which may harm a scarred tree. This is the landowner’s responsibility.

Can I remove an introduced species like a cypress tree?

Yes, you can cut down any introduced species unless they are heritage listed. 

Can I cut down a dead native tree in my paddock?

Only if it is dangerously unsafe.  Many animals need dead logs and trees as habitat. Aussie Birds need upright, dead trees for nesting.